Radio has long served as the music industry’s go-to platform to introduce audiences to new music and artists. Tuned In Broadcasting’s WRLT-FM (LIGHTNING 100) in Nashville, Tennessee has demonstrated an extraordinary and on-going commitment to celebrating and promoting local musicians on-air and through special events.
The station plays more unsigned local artists in daily rotation than any other commercial station in the country and features an expanded block of local specialty programming every week dedicated exclusively to playing music from local talent.
Most recently, WRLT featured an all-day lineup of local music during their tenth annual 615 Day on June 15, 2021. 615 Day is an annual community focused event, typically held block party-style, that celebrates the city, culture, sports, local businesses and people. The name and date are derived are from Nashville’s area code. The station joined the event in 2011 to help celebrate and highlight the local artists and songwriters they feature on-air each day. LIGHTNING 100 dedicates the day to airing music from local artists, and in 2021, invited local musicians to perform live in the studio.
“I never have to question whether it’s worth the effort to find great local music to play on the radio,” said Dan Buckley, WRLT’s program director. “Whether it’s an act that was born and raised here, has released 10 albums and can sell out venues, or an up-and-coming act that just had all their friends tell them they heard them on the radio, everyone making music loves to hear it on the radio.”
Playing local music helps to support the musicians and makes it possible for unknown artists to book new venues, sell significant numbers of tickets and reach new audiences in the music community. The work and time it takes to discover, curate music selection and promote local and unsigned talent is significant and greatly appreciated by artists.
“It’s so satisfying when artists come up to you and thank you for the effect you have on their career,” said Buckley.
The community’s appreciation for WRLT’s dedication to local music on the radio is palpable. In the last year, venues, the music industry and community in Nashville helped raise $300,000 in two weeks to help make sure the groups supporting local music, like WRLT, were able to continue operating.
LIGHTNING 100 is a great example of the partnership between local radio and artists that benefits the entire music industry, and most importantly – the fans.